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Thursday 27th October 2016

Male contraceptive pill could be developed

25th May 2012

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh believe it may be possible to develop a new male contraceptive pill.


They reached the conclusion after identifying the gene Katnal1, which is critical for the production of healthy sperm, following experiments in mice.

The team at the Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, which was investigating the causes of male infertility, altered the genetic code of mice to see which became infertile. Tracing the mutations which led to infertility led them to Katnal1.

In findings published in PLos Genetics, they believe a drug which interrupts Katnal1 could be a reversible contraceptive.

Researcher Dr Lee Smith said: “If we can find a way to target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal contraceptive.

“The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm production and the overall ability to produce sperm.”

Fertility expert Dr Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said there was a need for a non-hormonal contraceptive for men.

“The key in developing a non-hormonal contraceptive for men is that the molecular target needs to be very specific for either sperm or other cells in the testicle which are involved in sperm production,” said Dr Pacey.

He said the gene described by the research group in Edinburgh sounded like a new possible target for a new male contraceptive.


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